ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The German-American philosopher Theodor Adorno once said to “have no fear of the return of the Fascists with the mask of the Fascists, but of the return of the Fascists with the mask of the Democrats”. The saying may well apply to the case of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that we have recently seen in action during the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna.
What to think of the declarations of Raymond Yans, head of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), who said that the UN treaties were never meant to prohibit drugs, but to medicalise them? Or those of Yuri Fedotov, director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, calling the civil society organisations who try to open up the drugs debate ‘heroes’?
In Vienna, there finally seemed to exist a general agreement that criminalising drug users is abhorrent to common sense. Mr. Michel Kazatchkine of the United Nations HIV program stated that criminalisation is the key engine behind the HIV and Hepatitis pandemics in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. That seems a sign of the times since for many years public health and drug policies seemed two opposite fields at the UN level. As a matter of fact the zero tolerance and prohibition approach is rapidly loosing ground towards a paradigm shift to what Mr. Fedotov has called a ‘more balanced approach’. From what can be heard from many countries, criminal prosecution is slowly being replaced by administrative measures and a highly medicalized approach.
The hardliners are apparently in a deep crisis. At his so-called ‘Informal Dialogue with Civil Society” Raymond Yans, as if he were a representative of the Soviet Politburo in the 1950’s, read his answers to carefully prepared questions from a paper and did not allow a single intervention from the floor. A group of prohibitionist NGO’s made a final desperate effort to seem innovative as they presented a new international platform in defense of drug prohibition under the name: Drug Policy Futures. However, checking the average age of those who supported that initiative made it painfully clear that they represented above all the Drug Policy Past.
The CND meeting was also meant as a step towards the next United Nations General Assembly Special Session, an important event concerning the future global drug policies that will take place in 2016 in New York. That is the venue where the highest propaganda peak of the war on drugs was reached in 1998, as UNODC’s then executive director Dr. Pino Arlacchi launched his notorious ten year’s plan:” A drug- free world, we can do it”. Nowadays, that sounds like a bad joke, but at the time it was meant in earnest.
Today the few remaining partisans of the zero tolerance approach are gathering around figures like Queen Silvia of Sweden who announced that she will host a meeting in Stockholm of all those who intend to resist the changes. Should we care? Probably we should simply be careful as we do with unexpected obstacles popping up on our paths, keeping in mind the famous turkish proverb :”the wolves are barking but the caravan continues.”
We can see that the opponents of just and effective drug policies and of legal regulation are in a state of strategic retreat even though they will not easily give up their positions. That is the case for some highly biased scientists who are pretending to build up some sort of World Commission of leading figures in order to maintain a dominant position on the future of global drug policies. Some candidates will pretend that cannabis produces holes in the brain or that the ones sowing cannabis are harvesting opiates.
Many countries still can not implement harm reduction measures. Of course Russia could learn a lot from Crimea if it only wanted, such as suggested by Encod chairman Janko Belin in an open letter to Vladimir Putin.
On the other hand, the legal regulation of drug markets was not officially on the agenda at the CND yet. A session of the Organisation of American States outlined how Latin American countries do not intend to give any prescriptions but just wish to highlight the ideal of the different positions that are present in the global drug debate in the Americas. At the opposite position of market regulation such as is the case with cannabis in Uruguay, a rather extreme solution would be the complete cession of sovereignty on drug issues to the already existing criminal cartels.
Of course all these simplifications are extreme although the idea of disruption seems very similar to the actual situation. How can a modern society accept that some of its wealth and well-being goes directly into the hands of criminals?
That was exactly the meaning of the speech that Encod presented on the issue of money laundering. Taking part during 180 seconds at the Round Table on this issue at the CND, US author Doug Fine said ” During this time, the international drug trade has generated 180 x 12.683 USD. That is 2 million 282 thousand dollars. Once this CND is over “this criminal profit will have had a total revenue of 9 billion, 862.300. 800 US dollars.” We could use this argument all over again. Prohibition is costly and stupid and the ones that keep it going should be held accountable.
Let us not give up the fight!
By Enrico Fletzer
NEWS FROM THE SECRETARIAT
Between May 22nd and 25th, there will elections for the European Parliament in all EU countries. Encod will mobilise the vote for candidates who express themselves in favour of the Manifest for Safe and Healthy Drug Policies.
All those who wish to support this campaign are requested to send us the contact details of the candidates for the EP elections in their country.
You can also contact themselves and propose them to sign the Manifesto. If we receive their signature, we will start mobilising people to vote for them..
Soon, we will also have news about the upcoming Encod General Assembly, probably in September in Slovenia. Keep an eye on the website…